Kevin Costner’s 2014 reemergence campaign reaches phase two with the release of “3 Days to Kill”. It’s an action/thriller/comedy/family drama (and an assortment of other things) from director McG. The consonant-loving director isn’t one who automatically excited me. I couldn’t help but wonder if I would get a movie akin to “Terminator Salvation” (which I actually liked) or crap like his “Charlie’s Angels” flicks or the even worse “This Means War”. The inclusion of the sketchy Luc Beeson as co-writer added yet another line of uncertainty. But “3 Days to Kill” had one essential draw for me – the resplendent Kevin Costner.
Beeson is no stranger to taking an aging actor and making him an action movie star. Liam Neeson’s wallet is a lot heavier thanks to Mr. Luc. That’s what he does here with Costner although this story is an overloaded hodgepodge of action and dramatic storylines. Beeson and co-writer Adi Hasak try to take this story in a number of different directions but they never take the time to stop and commit to any of them. There are also frequent clashes in tone between the film’s curious split-personality. Toss in some corny melodrama and lazy shortcuts and you have a messy film but not one completely devoid of entertainment.
Costner plays a grizzled CIA field agent named Ethan Renner who gets a bit of bad news. He finds out he has brain cancer and only a few months to live. He heads to Paris to find his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and teenaged daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). His dedication to his work cost him his family and due to his illness he hopes to make amends in the short time he has left. But wouldn’t you know it, work comes a calling. Ethan is approached by a beautiful CIA handler named Vivi (Amber Heard) who wants him to pull that ‘one last job’ in exchange for an experimental drug that may save his life.
Vivi morphs from a CIA agent to a femme fatale with a penchant for leather, stiletto heels, and a wacky assortment of hairstyles. She is one of the weirdest, most cartoonish character, and while Heard is certainly lovely, I have no idea what the movie is trying to do with her. Vivi wants Ethan to hunt down a couple of German arms dealers ominously known as The Albino and The Wolf. Yes, that is honestly their names. He romps all over Paris, from Montmartre to Saint-Germain, shooting, punching, and driving cars really fast. Whenever he does something good, Vivi rewards him with a syringe of meds big enough to kill a cow.
At the same time he’s reconnecting with his daughter who is suddenly entrusted to his care so her mom can take a three-day trip to London (you tell me who the worst parent is). There are so many preposterous and head-scratching moments that make Ethan and his wife look like blundering idiots. I know the film tries to develop believable relationships and sincere family drama, but it ends up tripping all over itself.
There are a number of other examples of how the dopey writing hurts the movie. For example, I don’t know how many times his sickness kicks in just as he’s about to catch The Wolf or The Albino. And I’m talking about within 10 feet of them. He suddenly gets blurry vision, disoriented, and then unconscious. Oh so close! And Parisien law enforcement must of been on strike. You never see one police car or policeman despite all of the shootouts and car chases in public areas. Then there is the ending which uses one of the lamest and most contrived “twists” in order to wrap things up. I could go on but you get the point.
So considering all I have said this should be a horrible movie, right? Well not necessarily. It’s not as bad as it has every right to be and that’s mainly because of Costner. I love the guy and he makes things look effortless. Regardless of how absurd the scene may be, he is still a ton of fun to watch. He’s basically doing his Crash Davis from “Bull Durham” except he replaces baseballs and bats with pistols and explosives. I also really like Hailee Steinfeld. She’s not always able to rise above the material like Costner, but she’s still a talented young actress.
“3 Days to Kill” also features some cool actions sequences that Costner falls right into including a fantastic car chase through the beautiful yet busy Paris streets. There are also several gags that are actually very funny (in many ways also thanks to Costner). But these things can only cover up so much. Unfortunately the poor writing and McG’s lackluster direction leaves us with a sloppy movie that wastes a lot of potential. It still has its moments of fun and Costner almost saves it. But ultimately its a mediocre action picture that never anchors itself enough to tell a competent story.
I think that might be the best we could hope for from this one: fun enough to not totally suck, even if it isn’t all that good, either.
Hopefully I have a similar experience should I see it.
I really hoped it would be better. It certainly could have been. Costner is a blast but the material is so weak. There are some really good moments but there some really stupid ones too. This thing could have a fun old-school action romp. But there has to be some kind of decent script.
Not sure if you’re a fan of Kevin Costner. I really am and he was a saving grace.
I can’t help but wonder if Bruce Willis passed on this script and for whatever reason, Costner grabbed it. Just so predictable and lame.
The shame of it is Cosner is actually very good. He handles every scene with such ease. Such a good actor. But there are just so many scenes that are all out stupid. It’s a mess of a movie although it certainly has its moments. I think you’ll agree, it should’ve been better.
I had just finished my post when I saw you had the same movie up almost simultaneously. The opinions seem to match as well. Some of it was downright stupid, but that did not mean it was devoid of entertainment. Almost all of which is supplied by Mr. Costner. Whatever he got paid was worth it because all the other money for the film got spent wastefully.
It’s really a shame isn’t it? I mean with a little better and more competent writing this could’ve been an easy movie to recommend. Costner definitely provides the highlights. He deserve better material to work with though.
Only real saving grace here is Costner, who mostly makes the best of what he has here, as measly as it all may be. Good review Keith.
That is exactly what I said in my comments to James. Costner is just a natural and he makes it look effortless.
I was moderately interested in this when I saw the cast. But then I saw the director and all that interest evaporated. I may check it out on blu-ray. Or I may not. Nice review sir.
Thank you. McG certainly gets some of the blame for the shortcomings. But a lot of it rests with Beeson and the script. It is all over the place and filled with flaws.
Are you a fan of Costner? If so it’s worth checking out for that reason. He’s very good and quite fun to watch.
Yeah I am definitely a fan of Costner. I almost ducked out to see this tonight actually, but got caught up writing a couple of reviews. It has been such a quiet period for new films, I wanted to go to something yesterday, and there was literally not one film I could be bothered with which is really rare for me. So I think I will check this one out over the next week.
Yep it’s that January and February slog. I did find a couple of movies I liked during these slow months. But hey, the spring movie season is right around the corner.
Yeah we are in the depths of that at the moment. January is decent cause we get all the awards season films. But we are in the dirge now.
This score seems pretty consistent 😦
Unfortunately. Costner gives it ago but he doesn’t have much to work with.
That’s sad 😦
Very entertaining review. Should’ve seen this instead of Pompeii. Hopefully I can catch it at the end of this week.
Thank you. I almost watch Pompeii as the second part of the double feature. I quickly changed my mind. 😉
I’m assuming it’s as bad as everyone says?
Bad doesn’t even begin to cover it.
LOL! So it sounds like lawn work was a better alternative then Pompeii! I feel wiser already! 😉
Have to admit I don’t like the sound of this one, but it’s nice to know it doesn’t completely suck! By and large I like Besson but McG in the chair doesn’t really fill me with much hope. I used to dislike Costner despite some of his good performances in the 80s, but I certainly don’t begrudge him a comeback and thought he was Man Of Steel’s only saving grace.
I’ve always been a big fan of Costner and he is really good here. He just doesn’t have good material. McG certainly gets some blame but I point the biggest finger to Beeson. With the action and comedic elements this could have been a real blast. But there are so many dopey oversights and ridiculous plot points that were impossible to get over. This really could have and should have been better.
Hey Keith! I’ve got my review up for later tonight, I’m actually going to be a bit more generous than you 🙂 I agree it’s not a horrible movie, actually better than what I thought it’d be, though it’s really not saying much, ahah.
LOL. Anxious to read your thoughts. I REALLY wanted to love this movie mainly because Costner is sooo good in it. But there were just too many “Oh come one” moments for me.So many that it even went beyond the ‘corny fun’ level. But still, whenever Costner was on screen I was having a degree of fun. He is such a natural actor.
Oh, and you know I love Paris, right? I did enjoy some of that city scenery! 🙂
Yeah you know this wasn’t all as bad as it could have been, but there’s definitely an asterisk to that statement. I enjoyed it enough, and far more than I expected to given the previews and the time of its release. . .and the director. . . .and Luc Besson. hahaha
Yes the liabilities do start adding up don’t they? I really wanted to love this movie. All the ingredients were there for a big dumb fun action movie with a touch of good comedy. But so much of it makes no sense. Silly and lame-brained stuff that I can’t believe made it to the final cut.
Still it’s like you said though, there is entertainment here and it’s not as bad as it has every right to be.
Costner is quite good isn’t he? I think he’s the reason it does stay afloat.
Kevin Costner. The sole reason that despite the awful reviews, despite the number of friends who watched and hated it, I still plan to view it. I’ve seen comparisons to Taken 2, which I absolutely despised, so hopefully those are far from accurate.
Costner is very good in it. Whether it’s the action or the humor, he nails every scene. He is well worth watching. The problem is this could have been really good. Costner is ultimately let down by a lackluster script.
As for the comparisons to Taken 2, I disagree. I hated that movie too. This is a much better film. Are you seeing it soon?
Glad that he carries it to being somewhat entertaining! Oh, well that fact alone assures that I will be seeing it much sooner. I was hesitant because sitting through something like Taken 2 again would not be very fun. That is a film that I remember yelling at the screen, “THIS IS STUPID”, so many times haha.
LOL! Taken 2 has one of the most idiotic scenes in film history. When he tells his daughter to get on the roof an throw grenades down into the city streets just so he could figure out her location! I mean there could be kids playing down there. Pedestrians walking around. Utterly insane!
You know what the hilarious part of you mentioning that is? That is the exact scene that sent me into a frenzy. I got mad again later on when the mighty Bryan Mills was able to survive driving frantically into the US Embassy, by simply making a phone call to someone on a golf course.
I do not want to insult a guy who passed away, so I will be careful with my words here. Did you know that Roger Ebert gave Taken 2 a 3/4? While giving The Raid 1/4? Well…..
WHAT?!?! Are you serious? 3/4? That is mind-boggling.
I would not lie about something as dreadful as that. It would be far from funny haha.
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